Friday, 9 May 2008

There's only one e in education

Despite a post which I'll be publishing shortly about E-learning strategy, or maybe as a result of thinking about that, I have come to the conclusion that there's little point in the expression e-learning. It really isn't terribly difficult to talk about using technology to enhance learning and, although there could be some subtle differences if we are being pedantic, most staff understand this as ILT, which, unless you're fresh from teaching in the States, seems to have stood the test of time and is understood for what it is, learning with IT, and everyone knows IT now.

In fact, if it wasn't for government agencies perpetuating the term (and worse ones like eCPD, e-tools e-etc.,) I'm sure it wouldn't have survived this long.

The test of a good term is whether normal people start using it (reasonably correctly). All of us who live with technology and all that it offers in education know what we mean but I'm not so sure our colleagues do. They certainly would be hard pushed to distinguish it from ILT so why bother trying?

There is also a huge chasm opening up between places like my FE College and mostly private training organsations and course providers who use e-learning to mean on-line learning, or distance learning or quite specific packages of materials that deliver session materials with little tutor involvement. Indeed, the growth of these in the commercial sector is founded upon the very fact that organisations can save a fortune by substituting these 'e-learning' packages for human tutor packages and the rather more swish image that the monitor presents in comparison to the usually rather less than swish, and tending to the dowdy, appearance in the flesh of the human.

Interestingly, OFSTED inspectors at a recent visit to an FE College commented on the use of ILT and, to the best of my knowledge, made no reference to e-learning at all. Some may say they're behind the times but I reckon they've got it about right.

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